Some high school friendships last forever.
That holds true, but this evening a couple of off-field relationships will have to take a back seat for a few hours.
When the fourth-ranked University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team plays at Furman this evening in its Southern Conference opener, a number of UTC players will be reuniting with former teammates and childhood friends.
Running back Richardre Bagley, linebacker Nakevion Leslie and receiver Dy'Kari Hickey, all products of Hillgrove High School in Georgia, will be going against Jaylan Reid, who is listed as the starting defensive tackle for the Paladins. Reid has 10 tackles — 1.5 for loss — and a sack in Furman's two games.
Bagley said he was expecting some communication from Reid on Snapchat leading up to the game. The two have been really close and played together from eighth grade through high school.
"Jaylan is probably going to trash-talk, saying he's going to tackle me," Bagley said, "but I believe in my amazing offensive line that they're not going to let that happen. I'm real excited for this game. I can't wait to be out there, just like in high school. I can't wait to play with my brothers here, and my brothers on Furman.
"It's going to be a live game. They're going to play us hard, so we're going to have to match that and a little bit more."
UTC receiver Xavier Borishade's matchup could be even more personal. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior, who leads the nation with 39.3 yards on six catches with four touchdowns, went to North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Ga., with Furman senior defensive back Nick Miller, who has six tackles and a forced fumble so far.
The two have had a friendly competition, which each wanting to get the best of the other this season. It's Miller's first season as a full-time starter, and Borishade said it's been something that each has been wanting for a "long time, a long time."
"It's a back-home thing," Borishade said. "He's my boy, but the inner athlete, the competitor in me says that this is the game I've been waiting for."
The Paladins have listed junior P.J. Blazekowski as the starting quarterback after an early-season injury to four-year captain Reese Hannon, although the latter appears second on the depth chart this week. Freshman running back Darius Morehead, the Paladins' leading rusher with 90 yards on 26 carries, is not expected to play against the Mocs with a sore neck. Richard Hayes, who moved from safety to running back in the spring, is expected to start in his place. Former Ooltewah standout T.J. Warren, who is slated to start his 10th game at defensive end for the Paladins, will attend the Marine Corps Office Candidate School following graduation.
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.